Red Ochre

/ red   oak • ur /

font size:  a  a  a

History of Red Ochre:

Prehistoric dwellers may have discovered that unlike the dye colors derived from animal and vegetable sources (which we do not have traces anymore), the color that came from iron oxide deposits in the earth would not fade with the changing environment. For this reason, it is estimated that men traveled long and far to maintain a steady supply of red pigment. Throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, it continued to be used by painters. Dug right out of the earth and shaped into sticks with knives, hmeatite chalks were ready for drawing. Natural red chalks, with their rich, warm color, were popular from about 1500 to 1900. Such artists as Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Antoine Watteau used this medium to produce some of the most coveted drawings in the world today. By the 18th century, synthetic red iron oxide pigments were being made in a laboratory setting. Called Mars Red, these pigments were found to have all the properties, including durability and permanence, of their natural counterparts. 

When was Red Ochre used?

Discovery Used until


artificial, 18th century

continues in use

continues in use

Use of Red Ochre among paintings in the SchackGallery, Munich:

Source: Kühn